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On Tuesday, an internet news site, the Blaze, asked readers “Are some evangelicals beginning to question the existence of Adam and Eve?”

“As is the case in all of the faith articles we compose,” writes editor Billy Hollowell, “it was our goal to raise the question and then allow our audience to respond accordingly. So, at the end of the article, we decided to include a poll that asks a very simple and related question: How did mankind come about?”

Many regular Blaze readers voted.

“But so did others,” says Hollowell, “people who had a very different motivation for taking the poll.”

A group of atheists launched a mini-campaign, spread the word and purposefully “hijacked” the thoughtful poll so that the results landed in their favor, says the Blaze editor:

It wasn’t long after the poll was posted that something seemed odd with the results and the sources from which they were emerging. In addition to inflated anti-God numbers, we noticed that thousands (more than 5,000 at the time) of responses had come from Norway — an oddity considering the Blaze’s coverage, focus and readership.

The Blaze shut down the poll due to the atheist campaign to skew the results.

The Blaze began to notice the proportions within the poll evolving and changing.

“As Tuesday progressed and Wednesday came, we realized that something was awry,” writes Hollowell. “As it turns out, a prominent atheist and professor of biology at The University of Minnesota–Morris, named Dr. P.Z. Myers, was behind the statistical changes. On Tuesday, Myers ignited a mini-firestorm when he wrote a blog piece that read:

His site, the Blaze, has an article about these crazy conservative Christians who disagree with the mainstream view that there were precisely two people, Adam and Eve, who founded the whole human race. And it has a poll which is going in a predictable direction.

Maybe we can change some of those numbers around.

He also posted a link to the article on Twitter:

Following the post, efforts to “hijack” the poll began almost immediately, says Hollowell. A comment on Myers’ website by “Spanish Inquisitor” reported: “Almost up to 7% in less than 15 minutes.”

At 7:52 p.m., another commenter wrote: “Up to 34%. I voted early and often, and posted it on the chat for [another atheist website].

“As the comments progressed,” writes Hollowell, “they made clear the group’s intention to destroy the poll, forcing the results to come up favorable to their own cause.

“But whatever happened to making a solid case and then fairly proving it?” asks the obviously annoyed Hollowell. “What was the point of these atheists’ time-sucking exploits?”

He reports:

On Wednesday evening, I had the opportunity to speak with Myers about his anti-poll sentiment and the resulting activity on behalf of his atheist friends. The discussion was intriguing. When asked why, he called the poll “silly” — and why he asked respondents to “change some of those numbers around,” he said:

“All internet polls are silly. They’re kind of pointless. It was a question to a select audience. You know what answer you’ll get. They’re kind of pointless in that sense…it’s a pointless poll. What we like to do is have a little fun with it…we like to shake them up.”

Myers claims that he and his fellow atheists opposed the poll because it “reinforces peoples’ views” and acts as a sounding board. But, when asked how his site — which is geared toward atheists and which has a very narrow scope through which it views a variety of issues — differs from this description, his response fell flat (and it was, frankly, quite condescending):

“People who come to [my] blog are better educated. The comments on the Blaze were appalling. It was incredible how bad the arguments were.”

Although he initially said they (he and his atheist friends) like to tinker with “conservative” polls, he then said that “any” internet poll that the group deems “silly” might be altered in this way.

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